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End near in Ivory Coast standoff

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast — Surrounded by troops backing Ivory Coast's democratically elected leader, strongman Laurent Gbagbo huddled Tuesday with his family in a bunker and played his final hand, trying to wrest last-ditch concessions as he negotiated the terms of his surrender.

Down the hill from his luxurious compound, dozens of Gbagbo's soldiers stripped off their uniforms and abandoned their weapons.

Earlier, Gbagbo's three top generals said they had ordered their men to stop fighting, the United Nations said in a statement.

The developments spell game-over for a man who refused to accept defeat in last year's election and nearly took his country to civil war in his bid to preserve power. His security forces are accused of using cannons, 60mm mortars and 50-caliber machine guns to mow down opponents in the four months since his rival, Alassane Ouattara, was declared the winner of the contested vote.

Choi Young-jin, the top United Nations envoy in Ivory Coast, said Gbagbo's surrender was "imminent."

France's Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said Gbagbo would be required to relinquish power in writing and must formally recognize Ouattara, the internationally backed winner of the November election.

End near in Ivory Coast standoff 04/06/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 6, 2011 12:06am]

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